Important progress has been achieved within the MIDCAS project

Successful completion of flight tests and simulations is the result of hard work by all involved within the MIDCAS project. Major milestones included fully automatic avoidance manoeuvres of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) that with the help of sensors can detect other aircraft and determine how to avoid a collision.

The MIDCAS project is a European cooperation under the framework of the European Defence Agency, with a total budget of €50 million. The objective is to provide the possibilities for RPAS to fly into civil airspace alongside manned aviation. A prerequisite for this is that RPAS can detect and avoid other aircraft which the flight tests now have proven. The MIDCAS system uses sensors integrated on the RPA that can detect and track other aircraft. The sensor information is used to determine if there is a collision risk and if so how and when to carry out an avoidance manoeuvre.

The MIDCAS team at the simulations with Air Traffic Controllers at Sturup, Malmö.

Beside flight tests, different types of simulations have been conducted, including simulations together with air traffic controllers to see how the system works in their daily life. The general opinions from the air traffic controllers have been very positive. “We are pleased with the outcome of the simulations where the involved air traffic controllers concluded that they were confident to control RPAS within their airspace and did not get any additional workload from the RPAS, whose behavior was fully in line with manned aviation”, MIDCAS project leader Johan Pellebergs explains.

Happy customers, partners beside the Sky-Y RPAS test bed after demo flight in Grazzanise Air Base, Italy.

Hopefully unmanned traffic using the MIDCAS-system, will be allowed to use some airspace classes already in 2018. This will be further developed and around 2023, a more complete harmonization should have been finalized and this type of system will be functional in all air space classes with the same level of access as manned aviation.

The RPA-pilot’s view of the traffic situation.

About MIDCAS: Saab has the head project leader and the chief engineer role in the project, but also responsible for the overall design of the Collision Avoidance function in the system. Saab is also responsible for the Main Computer that has the main part of the functions for Detect & Avoid. The MIDCAS project was launched in 2009 by five contributing Member States; France, Germany, Italy and Spain under the lead of Sweden and is carried out by industrial consortium composed of 11 partners. These are: Saab from Sweden, Sagem and Thales from France, Airbus D&S, Diehl BGT Defence, DLR and ESG from Germany, Alenia Aermacchi, Selex ES, CIRA from Italy and Indra from Spain.